Sara Kravitz – Book Journeys Author Interview Transcript – Feb. 23, 2017

Book Journeys Author Interview – Feb. 23, 2017

 

Jenn McRobbie with Sara Kravitz, author of Just Tell Me What I Want: How to Find Your Purpose When You Have No Idea What It Is.

 

“[Writing] is not just about me, it’s about … if other people can understand what I’m saying and if it’s useful for them.” ~Sara Kravitz

 

Jenn:

Hello, everyone! It’s February 23rd and welcome to another episode of Book Journeys Radio! Every week on Book Journeys Radio, we speak to accomplished authors who’ve gone from just having an idea for a book to a finished book who are out making a difference in the world. And I’m really excited to introduce you to today’s author, her name is Sara Kravitz, she’s a life and career coach, and the title of her book is gonna make you wanna go out and buy it right now. So, log on to Amazon and search Just Tell Me What I Want and go ahead and buy it while Sara and I are doing the intros. So, Sara, thank you so much for coming on the show today.

 

Sara:

Oh, you cut out just when – when you asked the first question, so repeat it one more time, I’m so excited.

 

Jenn:

Oh, weird, I – yeah, I just said, “Sara, thank you for coming on the show today.”

 

Sara:

Oh, thank you for having me! It’s so great to be here.

 

Jenn:

Aw, I’m happy to have you, I’m sorry if there was some weird technical difficulties.

 

Sara:

….

 

Jenn:

I usually ask the authors to tell our listeners what their book is about and who it’s for, but before I have you go on and do that, I feel like I have to read to our listeners the very first sentence in the description of your book, because I think it will give them a really good idea. So, Just Tell Me What I Want, by Sara Kravitz, “This book is for anyone who has ever been told to follow their bliss and then immediately wanted to punch that person in the face.”

 

Sara:

Yes. Thank you.

 

Jenn:

Yes, so can you tell us more about that?

 

Sara:

So, yeah, that – that’s … been the driving force behind the book all along, right? … I am a life coach, which is probably one of the cheesiest professions out there, and I’m also from New York City, and I’m also cynical and I am sarcastic, so a lot of the book is about me trying to reach people who have that duality, right? Who do want their lives to be better and more facile and more passionate, and they don’t want to use any of that terminology, right? That terminology is just … – it feels too cliche, it feels too something, … –

 

Jenn:

Right.

 

Sara:

– they’re – they’re real people with real emotions who are feeling real … lack in their lives, and for some reason, when you tell someone to follow their bliss, it’s just … “Oh! Right. ‘Cause I never thought of that, … thank you for saying that.”

 

Jenn:

Right. It’s the one thing that I just hadn’t done yet, right?

 

Sara:

Yeah, exactly! Right, … “Oh, my God, thank God you’re here.” So, it’s really about … – for me, to … bring in that people – those people who are skeptical about self-help books, and … with good reason, but also … letting them feel their feelings ….

 

Jenn:

Right.

 

Sara:

So, that’s … what I was going for, with that – with that tone.

 

Jenn:

… and I absolutely love it, which is why I had to – I had to set the tone of the interview that way, because, when I feel … – a lot of people talk about self-help in … hushed tones, … “Oh, my gosh,” ….

 

Sara:

Totally.

 

Jenn:

But yet, we’re all reading them behind closed doors, right?

 

Sara:

Yes. Oh, my God, exactly. Exactly. That’s the thing, right? Is that, for some reason, we’re stuck in this culture, it’s cynical about us figuring out what we want and having purpose-driven work and meaningful work, right?

 

Jenn:

Right!

 

Sara:

And the idea of saying, “Follow your passion” makes some people legitimately want to vomit. So, how do you reconcile those two things? And for me, it’s been about creating –

 

Jenn:

Yes. So, how do we?

 

Sara:

Exactly! So, it’s – it’s about creating the language and creating the space for people to legitimately have their feelings and to say, “Look, I don’t know what I want. I don’t have a passion. And does that mean I just don’t have one, and I don’t get one? … am I the one person who is born without it, and everyone else is just … following their bliss, because that’s what you do. So, guess what, I don’t have a bliss and maybe I really don’t have one,” and so, it’s taking … how do you deal with that, right? What if you are the one person who is born without a bliss?

 

Jenn:

Right. And then, what do you do? Or – are you doomed to be unhappy and a failure for the rest of your life?

 

Sara:

Right. Exactly. … so, now, that’s it, we’re done. We’re done with you. You … and you’re – you’re gone, right? So, when – if you’re in a situation that … you’ve been working in jobs for awhile that just are not getting you where you wanna go and you don’t even know if you’re in a field that you wanna be in, and they’re just dragging you down, and you’re in such a depleted state that … to go from that level of exhaustion and – and … to sadness or a – … harshness, to go to … “Oh, yeah, joy,” …. That’s – that’s a lot to ask, … – that’s a lot to ask of somebody, that’s a lot to ask of people, so what I try to do with my book is allow people to just be where they are, right? … if you don’t love something right now, don’t try to love something right now, if you don’t need to love anything right now. What’s the thing you hate the least, …? What’s the thing that you are the most jealous of? What is the thing that you are embarrassed to tell everybody that you want, …? Are you hiding self-help books, like you said. Why? What is so shameful about that? And so, just using all of the dark areas, right? All of the places that people feel like they need to change and fix before they can have what they want. And I wanna start with things, I wanna use those right now, because those are the things that are the most accessible.

 

Jenn:

… listening to you talk about this, … it makes me breathe a sigh of relief.

 

Sara:

….

 

Jenn:

No, but I mean, in a great way, it’s … yeah, you can just be who you are, in this given moment, and that doesn’t mean anything about … this “following your bliss,” or that you’re not passionate or anything like that, that it’s perfectly acceptable to just be while you’re trying to figure out what will make you more blissful or more passionate.

 

Sara:

Exactly. Exactly.

 

Jenn:

That’s such a relief.

 

Sara:

And also, when you’re – yes! And the idea that – also, bliss is … ultimate, finite and also unshakeable faith, right? … once you’ve followed your bliss, … you’re never – you’re always going to be in bliss, right?

 

Jenn:

Right!

 

Sara:

… feeling other than bliss.

 

Jenn:

Yes, once I became happy, I never stopped being happy, … ever in my life, right?

 

Sara:

Exactly. Exactly, right? And people genuinely feel that way, …? They’re just … “I’m supposed to be blissful all the time. I’m supposed to be passionate all the time. And there is no reprieve for any other emotion now, other than bliss and joy.”

 

Jenn:

Right!

 

Sara:

And that’s a lot of pressure to put on a person, and that’s – … that’s crazy, it’s just not true, it’s not real, it’s not anything that anybody can achieve. You can have an incredibly passionate life, you can have an incredibly blissful life, and you can still have to do the laundry. So –

 

Jenn:

That – I think that’s … absolutely amazing. … absolutely amazing. How did you – how did you come about this topic, then, to write on, did you – was this personal experience, was it the experiences of your clients?

 

Sara:

Well, no, ‘cause I’ve always worked a very blissful and passionate life, so I never had any experience of this.

 

Jenn:

Clearly!

 

Sara:

Yeah, it was totally … second hand, from what I heard. No. One of the upsides of – about struggle, right? One of the upsides about doing a lot of work to follow your bliss and reading self-help books in secret and … knowing there’s something out there, but … not knowing at all what it is or what it could be or what you … – anything else about it other than you want something else other than what your reality is.

 

Jenn:

Right.

 

Sara:

Going through that, easy to write a book! It’s just – … it’s certainly, I think, one of the things that’s really interesting, right now, is that I’m – I’m one of the very geek – I’m one of the – I don’t know how to say this, I’m … the oldest of the millenials, right? … I’m – if you – if you look – in some studies, I’m … the top level of millenials, in terms of age.

 

Jenn:

Right.

 

Sara:

And so, what you’ll notice is, the way that millenials work and look for work and think about work is very different now. … there’s just – obviously, there’s an incredibly volatile landscape in terms of the work world and people are working very … now, but one of the things that seems to bind people together is the – is the need for mission-driven work and work that inspires them. So, it’s just also being on that cusp, right? Where a lot of the traditional jobs were just starting to go away.

 

Jenn:

Right.

 

Sara:

And … these things that just weren’t available anymore, and then, how do you figure that out, and you also … – you work thirty-five, forty hours a week if you’re lucky, right? … for a lot of people, a lot more than that.

 

Jenn:

Right.

 

Sara:

And that’s a pretty big chunk of time, so it’d be nice to not hate those thirty-four, thirty-five, forty hours a week, right? And ….

 

Jenn:

That would be incredible, right?

 

Sara:

Right? … is that really so much to ask for? And I definitely hated those thirty-five, forty-hour weeks for awhile and knew that it was just – there had to be something else, … this could not be life, this could not be what it was. No matter what it was, it just could not be this.

 

Jenn:

Yes. I think millenials – I’m not of the millenial generation, I’m of the Generation X, so if you’re a millenial and you’re listening, you’re probably thinking of me as an old lady, sitting in a room somewhere, but for me, it was –

 

Sara:

Not even close.

 

Jenn:

– for me, it was – exactly, not even close, but for me, … I so get what you’re saying, because … my parents both worked for … traditional jobs, where they were in the office, … they went in it X time, they came home at V time, and it – it’s just what they did, and they tried to drive me to go in that direction, too, and that just sounded so soul-sucking to me.

 

Sara:

Yes. Oh, totally.

 

Jenn:

And so, I – I think millenials really have this – this really wonderful opportunity in front of them, because we have all discovered now that soul-sucking doesn’t really get you anywhere. So –

 

Sara:

Yes. And also, the flip side of that, right? Is that – and I – and I talk about this in my book because I lived through this part … – and also, is the tremendous amount of guilt that a person can feel –

 

Jenn:

Yes!

 

Sara:

– when you have every opportunity at their fingertips, right?

 

Jenn:

Oh, my gosh!

 

Sara:

And you still can’t figure out what you want. … –

 

Jenn:

Yes, that is a good point.

 

Sara:

Yes, … imagine – … it’s just …, “Oh, here’s my nine-to-five job, there’s only so many of them available, this is … just what people do right now,” there’s – … there might be some limitations and that, right? But it’s … a structure that we’ve all signed up for. But the – the flip side is that, now, people have the opportunity, right? Which is a double-edged sword, but there’s also the pressure to then, … “Well, you have the Internet, and you can work from home, and you can … change your job every three to five years.”

 

Jenn:

Right.

 

Sara:

And if you can do all that, and you still can’t figure out what you want, then … wrong with you. Exactly, exactly.

 

Jenn:

What’s wrong with you? Right! Wow. … there – there’s so much information on this topic and – and basically how you can go about – … my husband’s – I think it’s my husband’s dad, or it comes somewhere in their family, but the – the saying is, “There are as many ways to live as there are people in the world.” And knowing that, how do you condense all that down into one book to help people learn to figure out what they want in life?

 

Sara:

That’s – wow, well, …, that’s – that’s a fun book to write, too. ….

 

Jenn:

Yeah!

 

Sara:

But I think – … what’s interesting is that – … exactly, right? There’s as many ways to live as there are people in the world. And … somehow, we all decided that there were … thirty acceptable ways to live, and if you want to be somebody who lives outside one of those twenty to thirty accessible ways to – … acceptable ways to live, what do you do? …. Do you … mold yourself into one of these pre-existing forms? Or do you break a mold, go against the grain, do something that doesn’t look like what other people are doing and experience that terror, right? That – ‘cause it – that is in doing something that there is no pre-existing model for.

 

Jenn:

Right.

 

Sara:

And the thing about that is that, … – the freeing part is that you’re never – you have no idea whether you’re doing it right or wrong, and the terrifying part of it is that you never – you don’t know if you’re doing it right or wrong, and so, to allow – right? And first, on people who want to know that they are doing it right, they’re on the right path, they wanna know that they are checking the boxes, … structure is great and that –

 

Jenn:

Right.

 

Sara:

Ironically enough, I’m a pretty structured person, so I put structure in my own life the way that I need to do it, just to – … for my own sanity, but it’s – it can be really challenging when you’re doing things that nobody’s done before and you don’t know what they’re supposed to look like.

 

Jenn:

Right!

 

Sara:

And the only way you know if you ever got it right, sometimes, is in hindsight. So, that’s also a tremendous amount of pressure to put on somebody when we’re not taught that in school, … school is not designed for that, college is not designed for that, master’s degrees are not designed for that. So, essentially, if you are gonna start going into business for yourself, even if you have a bunch of friends who are in business for themselves, even if you have a parent who’s in business for themselves, you also do have to reinvent the wheel a little bit, because it is, how are you going to present yourself, how are you going to talk to the people who need you, how are you going to … make yourself different. So, it is also being willing to live without a many answers as, maybe, a pre-existing model would give you.

 

Jenn:

That makes sense, y – we all have to be willing to … fail on our own terms, I guess.

 

Sara:

Yes. Yeah, and we are definitely a culture that agrees with failure. ….

 

Jenn:

Yes. Definitely, that’s – that’s … pretty much a topic on everyone’s list. We’re being facetious, everyone, ….

 

Sara:

So, start talking about how many times you failed and seeing … how well that goes over.

 

Jenn:

E – exactly. Talk about wanting to punch someone in the face, that’s when that – that’s when that happens, right?

 

Sara:

Yes. Yes, exactly, exactly.

 

Jenn:

So, when – when you were writing your book, how did you – how did you gather all of these thoughts that you have and – and put them into a coherent piece?

 

Sara:

That’s a great – that’s a great question. Three different answers to that question, right? The want – the first answer is … – over six years of living this very unfulfilling existence, that … certain number of thoughts with that.

 

Jenn:

Right.

 

Sara:

The other was that I was lucky enough to have a job where, … a certain number of mornings a week, I would have an hour of unscheduled time, and I just took that, … I just seized it and would start writing stuff down.

 

Jenn:

Nice.

 

Sara:

And the other – yeah, right? … that’s another thing that people … who work traditional jobs, who are maybe looking to make a switch to think about doing, right? It’s that, do you really owe the company all of your time, or can you carve out a tiny bit for you? Can you be a tiny bit rebellious? Just … out there. And also, I’m – I’m a life coach, right? I was trained by Mark …, so a lot of these things that I think about, all the time, are things that I genuinely want to be thinking about and … look to reinforce with client work, right? They’re all things that my clients have gone through, that I have gone through, that we’ve all … lived through, so it is an amalgamation of … the past and the present of my own experience of what it’s like to live through that, and then also coaching people through that experience, right? … it’s one thing to do it yourself and you … know your own threshold and what you can handle and … how to get yourself out of certain situations, but then being able to walk people through that experience. It’s incredibly – it’s incredibly humbling, and it’s an incredibly wonderful experience because you’re asking people who are not designed to be … – to be … hopeful people, right? If you’re anything like me, I am … cynical.

 

Jenn:

Right.

 

Sara:

… I do not wanna show my vulnerable side to you and you’re – so, you’re taking people like us and you’re giving us space to be, … “I – I read self-help books, … I’ve – I want to want something, ….

 

Jenn:

Right!

 

Sara:

And for us, this feels like the deepest, darkest secret in the world, …? … we’re not just gonna … write it off and be sassy and breeze by it, … we actually do want things. So, being able to … work with people in that end and – and – and help them get a handle on things that they do want, and then, the bravery that it takes to then turn around and declare that to the world, that’s … all where – where the book came from.

 

Jenn:

I love that. I – I love that. When did you publish, Sara?

 

Sara:

I published December 15th of 2016, so ….

 

Jenn:

Okay, so – … right, but we still have – we’ve got a couple of months under our belt and what’s the best thing that’s happened since you published the book, … in relation to publishing the book?

 

Sara:

Oh, man. Just one thing, I don’t even – … the best part is, you get a book, right? … you wrote a book!

 

Jenn:

Right!

 

Sara:

I – … when I reached out to Angela Lauria, the publisher, the Difference Press publisher, I – … I had one thing on my bucket list, and it was to write a book, and now, six months later, seven months later, I have a book. So, that’s been really incredible. And then also, having people read it and getting e-mails that are … “You – did you – you could have written this book for me, but this basically was just written for me.” That’s tremendous, … to make people – especially because I know that’s how alone I felt when I was going through that.

 

Jenn:

Right!

 

Sara:

And then have these people feel less alone and that there is somebody who understands them, and what can feel so tremendous at the time is actually just … a really hard phase that you’re going through.

 

Jenn:

Right.

 

Sara:

But you’ll get out of it, because we get out of everything. ….

 

Jenn:

Right. Well – and other people have walked that path before you, as evidenced by your book, and in – it will – it will be okay, right?

 

Sara:

Yes. As much as it does not feel like it at the time, right? And at the time you are just in it –

 

Jenn:

Right.

 

Sara:

– and you are … “No, no, except for me. … everyone – it worked out for everybody, good for all of you, but I’m the one who – who won’t get out of this alive,” so –

 

Jenn:

Right.

 

Sara:

Being able to … offer that lifeline, even just a tiny bit, has been super rewarding.

 

Jenn:

Aw, that’s – that’s – … I can see where, well, that would make you blissful on a regular basis, if you get e-mail, basically, from other people saying, “Hey, … you’ve basically changed my life!” or “Made me feel not so alone.” ….

 

Sara:

That’s the secret, you can’t tell anyone! Ironically enough, it’s … blissful. ….

 

Jenn:

Now that “Write a book” is off of your bucket list, is your bucket list completely empty, or are you refilling it?

 

Sara:

… yeah, that’s the thing, right? It – so, the other thing is, when you – when you figure out what your – … all the people out there who hate me for saying this, but when you figure out what your bliss is, or you figure out something that you wanna do more than you wanna do other things –

 

Jenn:

Right.

 

Sara:

– you gotta repopulate that list, so right now, it’s – I’m developing – so, I have one coaching program that I offer right now, which I love, which is “How to find your purpose when you have no idea what it is,” which is also the subtitle of my book. And it’s an eight-session program with people that’s just a really gweat way that’s … dive into where you are now, what are the things that are holding you back and try to identify that you can pursue, right? That you don’t hate too much.

 

Jenn:

Right.

 

Sara:

‘Cause I understand that bliss is a tall goal and no one’s pushing to the bliss, and – … and it’s not really fair, … it’s not fair to ask people to … – to try to impose that on themselves, so it’s come – people are coming up with a plan for something that they can pursue to give their life more meaning, to be more satisfied, to know that … there is something that they can do to be fulfilled.

 

Jenn:

Yeah, I think I wanna go ‘round and … sign up right now, so if anyone listening feels the same way I do, where can they find you, Sara, to sign up for – for that program or anything else that you have coming out in the future?

 

Sara:

Yes, so my website is super easy, it’s just my first name and last name dot com, so sarakravitz.com, and I am “Sara” without an “h,” or just Google – just tell me what I want, and I’ll come up and – and you can schedule a strategy session through there, as well.

 

Jenn:

Perfect. Perfect. … I think a lot of people listen to this radio show podcast and they want to write a book but they haven’t, or can’t bring themself to, or something is stopping them and they don’t quite know what it is. Do you have any advice for that person who’s listening right now and thinking, … “Oh, I’m not Sara, there’s no way I can … put my thoughts together in a book.”

 

Sara:

Totally. Yeah, my – my piece of advice for anybody who’s thinking about writing a book and it’s – I’m sure it’s to write a book. It’s just – there’s no experience like it, it is humbling and wonderful and terrifying and infuriating, and the sense of accomplishment and purpose that you feel when it’s over is pretty unparallelled. I also would like to say that, if you are somebody who is worried – … again, I’m speaking from experience. If you are somebody who is worried that you don’t – you don’t have enough structure to what it is that you’re saying, yet?

 

Jenn:

Yes.

 

Sara:

And you think, “I just need to learn a little bit more, or do a little bit more or interview a few more people,” then you know you’re really ready to write a book. That’s … your clue that you should just start writing tomorrow, because ….

 

Jenn:

So, feeling like you – feeling like you need to do more means you should write your book?

 

Sara:

Exactly. Yes. Yeah, yeah, yeah, if you are somebody who’s just …, “Yeah, in six months, I’ll have it all figurative out,” write tomorrow. Just start writing tomorrow. Just because writing the book is what will give you all of the answers that you think, six months from now, you will have. Yeah.

 

Jenn:

Oh. Yeah, that makes so much sense, because you grow and change during the process of writing a book, don’t you?

 

Sara:

Oh, totally. You become – … you know this, Angela says this all the time, you become the person who wrote a book.

 

Jenn:

Right!

 

Sara:

And what it – what it does is, it – it really forced me to structure everything in a way that I could then give to somebody who didn’t know what I was talking about, or who felt a certain way but didn’t have all of the tools and the training that I did. And say, “Here, … this is what I know, I think it can help you and I’m putting it in a way that I – I know you will understand it, and I know you will get something out of it.” And that doesn’t come until you write the book, because when you’re researching you’re still thinking about what you know and thinking about, “Well, I just need to make sure that I know enough and that nobody reads this book and they’re … ‘Oh, well, she didn’t – she didn’t know about that, so this book is useless,’” ….

 

Jenn:

Right!

 

Sara:

But it’s – right? … if I had known that one more fact, you would have all thought I was smart enough to write this book. But – … the good news is, you’ll always – … that’s why they have second books.

 

Jenn:

Right! Well, and – is there gonna be a second book for you, or was the process such that you’re just … “Yeah, I know. I’ve checked that off my list and this is it.”

 

Sara:

… I would love for there to be a second book. That’s definitely the goal right now, I would love to do a second and a third and a fourth book. The process of writing, for me, … is, like I said, it really helps me structure how I think, right?

 

Jenn:

Right.

 

Sara:

… gives me a platform to build from. And then, when I write, I know that it’s not just about me, it’s about other people, right? It’s not just me knowing these things, because that – … who cares if I know these things or if I don’t know these things. It’s about if other people can understand what I’m saying, … and if it’s useful for them, right? If the whole point of me imparting information on people is to better their lives, then we know if it’s a good book whether somebody read it and understood it, or read it and it did something for them … it’s not whether or not I think I’m smart or I think I wrote a good book, it’s about whether or not the book has been, in any way, shape or form, useful for somebody else. Yeah.

 

Jenn:

That makes so much sense. And – and that leads me to say to any of our listeners who are dying to get to know you that they need to follow you through your website or on Facebook because it sounds like, if you release more books, it’s all going to be about the evolution of Sara and her business and her thinking and her platform, so that just makes me want more from you, so can you get to writing … right away?

 

Sara:

I would love that, thank you! … Yes, I – I do have a blog that I write for, intermittently, and I do guest hosts with a website called “Our Body Book,” which is the online wellness community for – Cameron Diaz wrote two books, one called Our – The Body Book, and one called The Longevity Book and they’re brilliant books about women and their bodies and their minds and – … there’s biological information in there, and there’s emotional and psychological information there. They’re really brilliant resources, I think of them as … an updated version of Our Bodies, Ourselves, almost?

 

Jenn:

Excellent!

 

Sara:

And – yeah. And we’re translated is a – an online resource for women who are interested in – in holistic wellness, so they have … recipes, and they have exercise and they have all this great stuff and I started writing for them pretty regularly, so you can also find me there, along with a whole bunch of other really great stuff. ….

 

Jenn:

Fantastic. I – I’m so sad, we’re … already at the end of our time, Sara, I feel like I could keep chatting with you for hours.

 

Sara:

I know, this is so fun, thank you so much, then. ….

 

Jenn:

Oh, no, thank you, I’m – I’m so glad that you came on this show, it’s been a pleasure talking to you, too, and again, if you’re looking for Sara, if you’re listening and looking for Sara, you can find her at sarakravitz.com or just go to Amazon right now and type in “just tell me what I want,” and buy her book and read it and absorb all of the information that she has for how you can follow your bliss and not … punch people in the face along the way.

 

Sara:

That is the goal. To not punch … exactly.

 

Jenn:

That is the goal, thank you so much, Sara!

 

Sara:

Thank you, Jenn, take care.

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